As a component of the 2016 election process for APEGBC Council, a question and answer page was adopted at the request of members so that voters could learn more about the candidates.
I found the 1500 character maximum too limiting, so have reprinted my responses in full for your reading pleasure…
APEGBC is the regulatory authority charged with protecting the public interest with respect to the practice of engineering and geoscience in the province of BC. What is the key challenge facing APEGBC?
As a regulatory authority, the key challenge APEGBC faces right now is the risk of losing the privilege of self-regulation. Many British Columbians, members and non-members, do not have a clear understanding of what self-regulation means. We must educate our members and the general public about the benefits and requirements of a self-regulated profession. It is only by supporting self-regulation that we will have the privilege of keeping it.
Self-regulation is not only the handing out of licenses to qualified applicants. Self-regulation engages professionals in regulatory processes, such as defining the roles and responsibilities of registered members, imperative for us in APEGBC where we have great diversity in our disciplinary knowledge and expertise. Self-regulation allows professionals to effectively respond to our changing world and to ensure the safety of the increasing expanse of technology that we develop. Self-regulation enables members to guide the public in determining when a professional member should be consulted and to ensure that he or she is a member in good standing, legally permitted to fulfill these duties.
I want to take a moment here to acknowledge and commend the vast majority of our members who are clearly ethical, keeping their knowledge current and delivering high quality projects. I also want to acknowledge the work being done by my colleagues on the various committees necessary for regulation. Overall, we’re doing a great job! Let’s be proactive about self-regulation so that we remain in control of our professions.
What are the key issues facing the engineering and/ or geoscience professions?
I believe the three key issues facing our professions concern education about self-regulation, the enhancement of fairness, equity, diversity and inclusion in our professions, and the expansion of our practice guideline library.
Education About Self-Regulation
We need to provide education and promotional materials about our regulatory responsibilities, legislated for the public’s benefit, and showcase the range of activities for which it is necessary to consult with qualified professionals from APEGBC and other regulatory bodies. We need to make this information more transparent and readily available.
Education will have multiple incidental benefits, depending on how we decide to carry it out, more so if we establish this effort as founded among us as members, branches and divisions. It will serve to remind us about self-regulation’s benefits and requirements. It will mitigate some of the challenges we experience in terms of fairness, equity, diversity and inclusion. In addition, it will inform BC children and youth about career opportunities available in engineering and geoscience, thereby helping to stave off impending shortages due to retirements and growth.
Fairness, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Recent surveys continue to highlight the disparity between the salaries of men and women in our professions. This is only one of the areas that persist in inequity, in spite of our members efforts to rectify it.
British Columbia contains one of the most inclusive societies in the world, yet we continue to exhibit the unintended consequences of implicit bias (check out Harvard University’s implicit bias project at http://www.projectimplicit.net or test yourself using one of their online Implicit Association Tests targeting gender or other biases, at https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/canada/takeatest.html).
Other ‘isms’ that we unconsciously exhibit include decisions based on age, body shape and race. We might be able to assess our members’ salary and compensation data (anonymized, of course!) to determine in which areas we require additional practice guidelines to help us become more inclusive.
We need to expand our library of practice guidelines to ensure the broadest adoption of best practices across the province on both technical and non-technical topics.
APEGBC’s Practice Guidelines are very effective in clearing up unfortunate areas of concern by presenting best practice methods and procedures, such as those developed in swift response to major issues, like in the Forestry Sector, relating to the Mount Polley dam breach or even our current understandings about climate change. New practice guidelines for human rights and diversity are in work and additional topics can be explored as we identify areas of concern.
Interestingly, our practice guidelines have been quoted as best practice examples in the new WorkSafe BC guideline for developing written safe-work procedures (http://bit.ly/WorkSafe-Cites-APEGBC).
Looking five years ahead, what is your vision for APEGBC as a professional regulatory body in BC?
I see APEGBC as the preeminent professional regulatory body in British Columbia, recognized across Canada and around the world as the leader in maintaining professional practice and enhancing our reputation. It will be British Columbian engineers and geoscientists who will be instrumental in elevating our technological reach and societal influence to make the world a better place.
Okay, we might not get there in five years, but at least we will be on our way!
Please remember to vote!